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ARMS - Sculpture Placement Group

ARMS

Arts Resource Management Scotland

Exploring the idea of shared storage and resource management software across the Creative Industries in Scotland.

CONTEXT

While informal sharing and material reuse has always been a feature of the sector, the reasons for exploring a formalised, sector-wide shared system at this time come from a combination of commercial and environmental concerns. From a commercial perspective, there is a common issue across the Creative Industries regarding a shortage of good quality, affordable and accessible storage space, and a lack of effective inventory and catalogue management.

The environmental and sectoral benefits include avoiding the creation of new resources using virgin materials; diverting waste from landfill; equality of access across the sector to a catalogue of resources; and making the Creative Industries in Scotland an exemplar of good sustainable practice.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The recommendations include operating a trial across a smaller number of organisations from across the cultural sector to test the proposed concept, storage management, software solution and, perhaps most importantly, aptitude of a group of organisations to work together in a sharing economy. The very concept of transparency and sharing assets rather than preciously guarding them, will be a major mindset shift.

This report has been commissioned by the Arts Resource Management Scotland (ARMS) working group and has been funded by Creative Scotland. The ARMS group includes representatives from across the theatre, screen, visual arts sector and sustainability in the arts, who have a collective goal of finding ways to share resources, materials and equipment effectively across the cultural sector in Scotland.

This research has been produced against the backdrop of the Climate Emergency, declared by the Scottish Government in 2019 and resulting in a target to reach net zero emissions by 2045.

The single biggest barrier raised by stakeholders relates to space, or rather lack of sufficient space to store materials, resources, products or items, in order to facilitate their reuse or repurposing in a timely fashion. Space scarcity is identified as a major limiting factor for organisations of all sizes, scale and focus. It’s a practical barrier that limits the intentions to adopt different solutions for materials or items at the end of their useful life. 

It goes further than having adequate storage space and relates to accessibility and visibility once in that space; resources can only be utilised effectively if the storage is convenient to access and items are electronically visible for speedy retrieval.

“Almost anyone you speak to in the Creative Industries will nod knowingly when you ask them about the problems of storing and retrieving materials efficiently. 

Recurring issues include a lack of affordable, good quality storage that can be accessed as and when needed; and an absence of up to date inventories that are effectively used across the organisation.”

Research Participant

SOLUTION

Proposed Solution The proposed solution to these issues is to implement a hybrid shared storage and software solution across Scotland’s creative organisations. More detail about the options for storage and software can be found in the full report. This modular system would harness existing momentum and build up capacity as the scheme expands.

Proposed Solution and Benefits Start with one central storage hub for larger items, managed by a third party and offering deliveries and collections.

  • Gradually add on regional hubs as the scheme grows and demand for this increases, working in partnership with Circular Communities Scotland’s Share and Repair Network;
  • If demand proves high enough, build up a shared library of commonly used items as the scheme grows, owned by the scheme, and managed and stored in the central storage facility;
  • All supported by shared software that provides an easy to use digital catalogue of what is available and manages reservations, whether from the central storage facility or an individual organisation’s store;
  • Borrow from and lend to other organisations through the shared software system for the items you choose to share (ie you can choose which items are available for sharing and which are not), regardless of where they are stored;
  • Signpost what should happen to materials at the end of life (i.e. once an organisation no longer wishes to keep them and they are removed from the shared storage facility). This could include donating items to a shared library; or working with organisations such as the Circular Arts Network and Re-Set Scenery to keep these materials at their highest value for as long as possible

The sectoral response to the idea of a shared storage facility has been overwhelmingly positive, with 87% of survey respondents supporting the idea. The small number of organisations who answered no to this question said that for various reasons (geographical location, current storage working effectively), such a scheme would not be suitable for them.

A shared, cross sectoral solution means that sharing becomes accessible to organisations of all shapes and sizes and creates a system in which materials can be used to their full capacity. Other benefits of the system include, for organisations:

  • Understand assets – what they are, where they are, and key useful facts about them making it easier to plan their use.
  •  Eliminates double procurement – save cost and time of buying new materials; Saves costs on storage of materials you are not using. 
  • Carbon Savings – software includes carbon calculators so organisations can estimate and report on their CO2 targets.
  • Contributes to meeting sustainability objectives.
  • Demonstrates sustainability commitment to customers and clients.
  • Resilience – sourcing pre-used materials within Scotland makes organisations more resilient compared to sourcing from an increasingly expensive and unreliable import market. 
  • Equality of access: increases access to interesting tools and materials for everyone across the sector, not just those with strong networks.